Guardaviñas (vines-keepers), typical rural architectural symbols of La Rioja.
What are they? What are they for? What value do they have and why were they created?
There are not many that remain and some disappeared in recent years. Caring for them can save a rural element as typical as interesting for the region.
What are they?
The “guardaviñas” are circular stone constructions and are also known as “chozos (huts)” . They were built with mostly flat stones and little mortar, stacking circularly more and more concentric as it rose in height to create a false dome.
What are they for?
For very little at present, although originally they had an indispensable function for the work in the vineyard. They were used as a refuge for farmers and as a warehouse for some tools, which allowed the vine growers to take care of their lands with agility. They were also used as posts to monitor crops, hence the beautiful name “guardaviñas (vine-keepers)”.
What value do they have and why were they created?
The appearance of these constructions coincides with the arrival of phylloxera (that plague that affected so much the European vineyard). The increase in the sale of Rioja wine to the French market led to the introduction of new methods of work in viticulture, which is why these small refuges were raised. Its current value is historical, artistic and traditional, since its original function is not longer used. However, we should not underestimate these less intangible values. They give the Riojan landscape an aesthetic richness which few places have, they keep alive an oral and written flame of the time when Rioja was born as we know it nowadays and allows the visitor to recognize that work which belongs to this region.
There are 68 guardaviñas located in La Rioja, although some have been disappearing in recent years.